It has been a while. Long time, no talk! Radio silence! Sorry! I have been all consumed with teaching, running and enjoying the Schoolhouse. But, I want to take some time to give you all a little update on what we have been doing in the last several months.
An Academic Update
After the first couple of months, we have definitely hit our groove. Students meet at the schoolhouse three days per week, and parents help them complete 3 ELA lessons and 3 Math lessons at home during the two off days. And K-2 students are reviewing their phonics cards and reading aloud with parents multiple times a week, which is so good for academic growth. Teachers and parents alike have been extremely happy with The Good and The Beautiful curriculum and the rigor and values it promotes. Read more about the curriculum we love for Language Arts.
In math, K-3 students have been practicing their addition and subtraction flashcards with parents and at the schoolhouse plus completing 4 lessons each week. In levels 3-5, they review multiplication tables with each lesson. (Did you know that The Good and the Beautiful has some amazing resources when it comes to multiplication tables? Check them out here, here, and here. And read more about why we use TGATB math curriculum.)
All students studied marine biology together and learned about invertebrates, marine reptiles, fish, sharks, mammals of the ocean, ocean birds and sea exploration. It was a great unit and students had the opportunity to participate in a special class about sea turtles at the Pittsburgh Zoo, which tied all of our book learning together with real-world science. (Did you know that Marine Biology is a free download from The Good and The Beautiful? Be sure to check it out and see if it would be a good addition to your homeschool curriculum.)
Here is a quick run-down of the other things students did and learned in the last couple of months:
- Social Studies: We just finished up our survey of ancient Greece and ancient China.
- Art: We focused on the fall season with art projects featuring sunflowers, leaves and bird feeders.
- Music: We are halfway through our study of the instruments of the orchestra and dove into woodwinds, brass and percussion. After we finish our orchestra study, we will start our Christmas selection: The Nutcracker. (We use SQUILT music for our music curriculum. Check it out here.)
- Nature Study: We studied seeds, bugs and the autumnal equinox. In October, we completed a pond study, took a deep look into leaves and trees and then had some fun with fungus! (Exploring Nature with Children has been our guide this year in nature study…and I LOVE it!)
- Morning Time: We have continued with Habits of Learning this year and covered responsibility, respect, organization and time management. If you want to include these lessons in your homeschooling day, check out all these FREE lessons on the blog. (Don’t know what Habits of Learning is? Well, head over here to check it out!)
Special Events & Field Trips
Who says homeschoolers can’t have a picture day? Our families and students loved their pictures from Michelle Dunn Photography. She is an amazing homeschool mom who has taken our school pictures for two years now. Check out her social media page here!
A New Event for Parents: MOSH
What, you don’t know what MOSH stands for? No, we are not jumping around in a pit 1990s style. MOSH – Mothers of the Schoolhouse – is a new group that formed this year to help parents connect in meaningful ways. We had our first meeting in mid-October and had a great time. Moms brought homemade treats and got a little kid-free time to chat. We are looking forward to getting moms together again a few more times this year to build a stronger schoolhouse parent community.
Natural History Center Field Trip
In October, we had a great field trip experience at the Carnegie Museum of Art! Experienced guides explained famous scenes from Greek mythology depicted in art pieces, encouraged students to observe textures and detailing used in statues from that era and even demonstrated how Ancient Greece continues to impact us today through architectural design. Thank you to Mrs. Williams for organizing this amazing tour for schoolhouse students!
Our parent and grandparent volunteers organized an AMAZING Harvest Festival for our students. The day included pumpkin volcanos, homemade root beer, cookie decorating, rhythm music games with glow sticks, and other fall activities. We sent all the kids home tired, dirty, and well sugared, but also with some great schoolhouse memories.
What is this? Well, many homeschooling groups do a poetry tea time every once in a while to celebrate poetry. I thought about this idea a good long while, and I just could not see selling this as a fun idea to my middle school boys. So, we tried to be a little cooler (read: nerdier) by having a Poetry Slam. Hey, it was waaaay more fun than a poetry test! And it went over so well that we are looking forward to having two more of these Poetry Slams this year!
(Evidently, I didn’t get any pictures taken of this event! Sorry!)
Science Center/Planetarium Field Trip
An interactive experience with the night sky above Pittsburgh and beyond at the Carnegie Science Center‘s Planetarium was the perfect addition to our space science unit from The Good and the Beautiful. We were so impressed by all of the wonderful things the museum offers: a robotics area, space station replica, activities to help students understand the water cycle and an environmental science area. It was the perfect way to turn book learning into a real-world, interactive experience.
On Our Minds and Hearts
Some personal reflection here: the biggest growing pain at the beginning of the school year was figuring out the “work from home” piece to this educational hybrid model. One of the strengths of the schoolhouse is external accountability. It is not just because mom says I have to do this work; it is because my teacher also says I have to do this work.
There is power in throwing someone else under the bus! So, go ahead, blame the teacher…